By the time you read this post, you've already slept away the extra hour that our return to Eastern Standard Time gave you. Was it worth it? Was the luxurious one hour of extra sleep worth the next five months of darkness by five o'clock p.m. and kids bound to the incandescent light of indoors with all the yelling and rambunctiousness that implies. I say no. I'll trade you an hour for some sunlight.
Prolonged sunlight was the original intention of Daylight Savings Time (DST). DST ended at 1:59 a.m. this past Sunday. Goodbye sanity. A New Zealander named George Vernon Hudson first proposed DST in 1895. An extra hour of sunlight after his shift-work gave him time to collect his beloved insects. (okay, ugh. But he was an entomologist.)
The idea of turning the clock ahead one hour in the spring soon caught on for its potential to conserve energy, enhance leisure time, family together time, shopping time...basically, time. The jury is still out on whether measurable energy is saved in the spring and summer because the lights go on later. What I can tell you is that walking the dogs with a flashlight at dinnertime is a major inconvenience. Have you ever tried training a flashlight on a particular spot on the ground and scooping at the same time? It's not easy...or pleasant.
Ask your friends why we observe DST and they'll say it has something to do with farmers. The only thing is has to do with farmers is that they don't like it. Really now, they have to get up early no matter what. Do they seriously begrudge the seasonally affected a longer peek at the horizon's glow? I think not.
As we know from "Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise," Benjamin Franklin was a proponent of going to bed early. Apparently, while in France, he was impressed by how the French conserved candles by getting up extra early and going to bed once the sun went down. We also know from credible historical accounts that Franklin had a couple of reasons in France why he liked to go bed early...reasons named Madame Brillon and Madame Helvetius. If I go to bed that early, I'm going to miss Conan.
Another positive byproduct of not turning back the clock (besides my mental well-being) might be to keep Santa's sleigh in the shed a little longer (did you know Santa came to the mall this past weekend? And, worse, the original, animated How the Grinch Stole Christmas aired this past Saturday! Something about seeing the green fellow before Thanksgiving takes some of the candy out of the cane). Retail sales have been shown to increase during DST. Instead of shaking the sleigh bells to draw folks to the mall, let the sunlight show them the way.
Clock shifts of any sort contribute to a disruption in our circadian rhythms and, thus, in sleep patterns. Heart attacks and suicides were reported to increase the first few days after the transition back to standard time. Could it be because our bodies are stressed by the prospect of the long, dark winter ahead? Meanwhile, the Department of Transportation has conducted several studies which do illuminate (see how I did that) a reduction in traffic fatalities during DST. Makes sense. If you can see what's on the road in front of you, you're not likely to hit it.
Fall back in all its permutations is anathema to progress. Fall back in a military endeavor and you've basically thrown in the towel. Fall back on the calendar means one thing: dim, dreary, gloomy darkness. That's one thing, right? Spring ahead, on the other hand, connotes exuberance, ambition, progress, brightness. What would you rather do?
If you can't see me, it's because it's dark. And I'm probably huddling by the light of my computer screen trying to trade in my extra hour on Craig's List for an hour of sunlight.